IMAX, the company best known for its extra-large screens for movie theaters, is venturing into virtual reality through a partnership with Google.
At the second day keynote for its I/O conference, Google announced that it has tapped IMAX as a hardware partner in the development of a virtual reality camera suited for cinemas.
According to IMAX, it will be dedicating a team of camera specialists and engineers to collaborate with Google on the project that will design the new high-resolution virtual reality camera from scratch, using technology that has been used by top directors such as Christopher Nolan, Zack Snyder and J.J. Abrams.
IMAX will then be launching virtual reality experiences in certain locations later this year, using its relationships with Hollywood talent and movie theaters to spur the growth of the upcoming business. There are six planned virtual reality locations to be launched this year across the world, beginning with one in Los Angeles. IMAX is then looking to expand into other countries afterward, including China, where the company maintains a sizable presence.
While IMAX will be working with Google on the new virtual reality camera, it has also created a partnership with Starbreeze AB for the location-based virtual reality initiative. Starbreeze virtual reality headsets will be used for the venture, with IMAX hoping that the camera will be used by filmmakers to create content for the initiative. At first, only games will be offered at IMAX’s virtual reality locations.
According to IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond, the decision to dive into virtual reality is just a part of the company’s strategy to expand its business beyond movies. The company decided that offering virtual reality content will give customers a great social viewing experience, which is the same reason why customers go to the theaters to watch movies.
Gelfond envisions that virtual reality experiences will cost between $7 and $10 for 10 minutes of content, with his interest particularly in creating virtual reality content that is connected with movie franchises.
New IMAX partner Starbreeze has recently signed a deal with Acer for the design, manufacturing and promotion of the StarVR, which is a virtual reality headset that will have a wide field of vision and high resolution.
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